Wildcats Hit the Road to Kick Off 2010 Football Season

Arizona will square off against Toledo on Friday, Sept. 3, in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. in Tucson).
Sept. 1, 2010
Extra Info: 

Live TV Broadcast: ESPN (national)
Television Talent: Joe Tessitore (play-by-play); Rod Gilmore (color analyst)
UA English Radio: Wildcat Radio Network (Brian Jeffries, play-by-play; Lamont Lovette, color; Dana Cooper, sideline)
Satellite Radio: XM 212

What: 
Arizona vs. Toledo
When: 
5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 3
Where: 
Glass Bowl, Toledo, Ohio
Brooks Reed
Brooks Reed
(Photo credit: Luke Adams, Arizona Athletics Photography)
(Photo credit: Luke Adams, Arizona Athletics Photography)

The excitement of opening week finds Arizona's football team on the road at Toledo in its easternmost game since starting the 1999 season at Penn State.

The Wildcats will open the season against a Mid-American Conference team for a consecutive year, but it's the first-ever trip for a Pac-10 squad to a MAC venue.

It will be a match up of squads with Biletnikoff Award candidates – the University of Arizona's Juron Criner and Toledo's Eric Page.

Page led the Rockets and was first in the nation among freshmen with 82 receptions for 1,159 yards. He ranked ninth in the country with 6.8 receptions per game. Criner snagged a more modest 45 catches for 670 yards but had nine scoring receptions, two more than Page.

The UA's new defense – new guys, not the system – will get tested by Page, a formidable offensive line and a hungry quarterback on game day.

UA signal caller Nick Foles will line up with his veteran offensive unit (nine returning starters) against a Rocket defense that returns six starters led by senior linebacker Archie Donald.

The game will unveil the four-coordinator system UA employs, with Bill Bedenbaugh and Seth Littrell on offense and Tim Kish and Greg Brown on defense.

As for quarterbacks, Foles clearly is No. 1, but the other guys (Matt Scott and Bryson Beirne) have the coaches' confidence and whether UA opts to spread the wealth is subject to question.

The Cats and Rockets meet in Arizona's fifth consecutive game on the ESPN/ABC family of networks.

The Wildcats and Rockets have meet only twice in the long histories of the two programs. Both previous meetings were held in Tucson at Arizona Stadium, in 1985 and 2008, with the Wildcats claiming each contest.

The UA has outscored Toledo a combined 64-26 and will put that control of the series on the line in the first meeting in the Rockets' home venue, the Glass Bowl.

The game will be the UA's sixth all-time against current Mid-American Conference schools and the first the Wildcats play against such schools away from Arizona Stadium. The UA has previously defeated Toledo twice, and Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan and Central Michigan once apiece.

Entering 2010, Arizona returns more than 4,400 career rushing yards, a pretty impressive figure. The head of the attack is none other than senior tailback Nic Grigsby, who accounts for 2,424 yards despite not emerging as the starter until late in his freshman season of 2007 and missing significant action with injuries last year.

Backfield mate Keola Antolin has accumulated 1,094 yards to date through two seasons, while sophomore Greg Nwoko added 273 in his rookie campaign last fall. Added up, that's 3,791 career yards from the top tailbacks. Throw in dual-threat quarterback Matt Scott's 493 career yards and markers from H-back Taimi Tutogi (50) and wide receiver Juron Criner (62) a year ago and you have a total of more than 4,400 rushing yards returning. Of that group, only Grigsby is a senior.

The Arizona Wildcats voted on their team captains 10 days prior to the season opener, with four veterans drawing the respect of their teammates. Senior defensive linemen Brooks Reed and Mana Mikaele will represent the defense as captains, while senior center Colin Baxter and junior quarterback Nick Foles will carry the honors for the offense.

Two other players, wide receiver David Roberts and linebacker Jake Fischer, will represent the football team in UA's Student Athlete Advisory Committee, which works with athletic administrators to provide feedback on improving the Arizona experience for student-athletes.

Arizona's 6-3 mark in the Pac-10 in 2010 was its best since 1998 and is the third six-win Pac-10 season in program history. The record gave the Wildcats 14 victories in their last 22 conference games, dating to the last four games of the 2007 season.

That 14-8 record (0.636 winning percentage) is impressive by itself, but even in the Wildcats' eight losses, they have been just a few plays away from winning each game. UA has lost five of the eight games by three points or less and by a total of 37 points (average of 4.6 per game).

Next Week

The Wildcats will return home to begin a stretch of four consecutive home games played over the course of five weeks.

The home opener will welcome The Citadel to Arizona Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 11. The UA will celebrate Public Safety night at the stadium in honor of public service men and women across the world.

The game will be televised live on KWBA Channel 58 in Tucson and on FOX College Sports. Taped versions of the game will re-run on KGUN-9 TV in Tucson and on FOX Sports Arizona beginning at 10:35 p.m.

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